Protecting Yourself and Others from Asbestos Exposure During Home Improvement Projects
Home renovations and construction projects can be exciting. Still, they also carry potential risks, especially when dealing with older properties that may contain asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Inhaling asbestos fibres during demolition or renovation work can lead to serious health problems. This article will provide tips on protecting yourself and others from asbestos exposure while undertaking home improvement projects.
Identifying Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACMs)
Before starting any renovation or construction project, it is essential to determine if your home contains asbestos. Some common ACMs found in residential properties include
- Insulation: Asbestos was used in insulation materials around pipes, boilers, and heating systems.
- Ceiling and floor tiles: Older ceiling and floor tiles may contain asbestos fibres Roofing and siding materials: Asbestos cement was often used in roofing shingles and siding panels.
- Textured coatings: Asbestos was sometimes added to textured coatings, such as popcorn ceilings and textured wall finishes.
- Gaskets and seals: Asbestos was used in gaskets and seals for furnaces, wood stoves, and other appliances.
- To accurately identify and assess the condition of ACMs in your home, hiring a certified asbestos inspector is recommended before beginning any renovation work.
Safe Work Practices During Renovations
If you are planning a renovation project in a home that contains asbestos, follow these safe work practices to minimise the risk of exposure:
- Hire a professional: Whenever possible, hire a licensed asbestos abatement professional to remove and dispose of any ACMs in your home before beginning renovation work.
- Obtain permits and follow regulations: Check with your local building department to obtain any necessary permits and ensure compliance with local and federal asbestos regulations.
- Use appropriate protective equipment: If handling ACMs, wear personal protective equipment, such as a properly fitted respirator with a HEPA filter, disposable coveralls, gloves, and shoe covers.
- Control dust: Keep the work area wet to reduce the release of asbestos fibres into the air, and use plastic sheeting to seal off the work area from the rest of the home.
- Proper disposal: Asbestos waste must be double-bagged in heavy-duty plastic bags, sealed, and labelled according to local regulations. Dispose of the waste at an approved asbestos disposal facility.
Post-Renovation Asbestos Safety
After completing your renovation project, take the following steps to ensure ongoing asbestos safety in your home:
- Thorough cleaning: Thoroughly clean the renovated area using a HEPA-filtered vacuum and wet wiping methods to remove residual asbestos fibres.
- Air quality testing: Consider hiring a professional to conduct air quality testing to ensure that asbestos fibre levels are within acceptable limits after the completion of the project.
- Update your asbestos management plan: If you have an asbestos management plan for your home, update it to reflect any changes resulting from the renovation project, including the removal or disturbance of ACMs.
Renovating a home containing asbestos can be challenging and potentially hazardous. Taking the necessary precautions and following safe work practices can help protect yourself and others from asbestos exposure during home improvement projects. Always prioritise the health and safety of everyone involved. Consult with a certified asbestos professional to ensure your project is completed safely and complies with all relevant regulations.